BUC: The Voice to Parliament Discussion Paper

BUC invites you to engage with The Voice to Parliament, regardless of your current position on the subject. This discussion paper encourages us to move beyond the mere sound bites that the media delights in to an engagement with some of the details as we head toward this historic referendum.

Click this link to download the The Voice to Parliament Discussion Paper written by Michael Dowling.

Please continue reading below the following boxes to learn more and engage with The Voice to Parliament.

Considering the VoiceBlackwood Uniting Church member, Bruce Marriott, has created a document in question and answer form, outlining considerations he thinks need to be made in casting a responsible vote in the upcoming Referendum on changes to the Australian Constitution.

Click this link to go to the Voice Considerations page where you can read / download this document.

Click this link to go to the official Yes/No case pamphlets page on www.aec.gov.au where you can download both the Yes and No cases as submitted to the Electoral Commissioner on 17/07/2023 or you can click on either / both of these Yes / No images to download one particular paper.

5 voices on the VoiceClick image link to go to

5 voices on the Voice

Five pieces of writing from Uniting Church people on the Voice to Parliament.

Former Australian judges publicly endorse Indigenous Voice to ParliamentVOICE TO PARLIAMENT: Open Letter from Eight Retired Judges entitled “The Voice to Parliament would enhance Australian governance”

The Voice to Parliament would enhance Australian governance

Please click the link above to download the wonderful letter from the eight retired judges.

Click this ABC VIDEO Link to watch: Eight former judges sign open letter calling for yes vote on Voice

Later this year, 2023, Australians will be called to vote in an historic referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and Executive Government. The decision to change our constitution is an important one and merits the engagement of all citizens with this subject, including those of religious faith.

Blackwood Uniting Church Council have been discussing the Voice Referendum for some time now, seeking discernment on how to most appropriately be part of the process of engagement. After significant discussion, the Church Council has resolved to support the proposed referendum for a Voice to Parliament and the Executive Government.

It is our desire to do so in a way that is invitational, not confrontational.

It is our desire to do so in a way that encourages conversation around the topic: the sharing of hopes and concerns, and the willingness to listen deeply to each other.

A number of factors have guided our decision

The significance of the covenanting relationship between the Uniting Church and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC)

As stated in the Constitution and Regulations: Covenantal Relationship is the relationship which exists between the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and the Assembly, which began in the invitation of 1988 and response of 1994, in which both groups commit themselves to developing more just, inclusive and equal relationships in the Church that recognise the place of First Peoples, the difficult history of this nation since invasion, and the particular responsibility of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress for ministry with and among Aboriginal and Islander peoples.

Our support is based on what we believe is our role in both leading our congregation and supporting the UAICC at this time.

The position of both the Uniting Church National Assembly and the Uniting Church SA Synod

Both the Uniting Church National Assembly and the Uniting Church SA Synod have affirmed their support of the Voice proposal, their decisions being guided in part by the covenanting relationship with UAICC.

Our relationship with the Blackwood Reconciliation Group (BRG) and the annual Reconciliation Walk

Blackwood Uniting Church has a longstanding relationship with the Blackwood Reconciliation Group (BRG) and share many of the same hopes and dreams when it comes to reconciliation between First and Second peoples. Blackwood Uniting Church have long held a Reconciliation Sunday worship service immediately prior to the annual Reconciliation Walk to the Colebrook site.

Our responsibility as a Church Council

We have made this decision in keeping with our responsibilities under the Constitution and Regulations of the Uniting Church (3.1.2): The Church Council shall give priority in its life to building up the Congregation in faith and love, sustaining members in hope, and leading the Congregation to a fuller participation in Christ’s mission in the world.

Church Council recognizes that, whilst it does not and cannot speak for each individual member of the Blackwood Uniting Church, on occasions such as this, it is called to speak on behalf of the Blackwood Uniting Church as a whole. We hope to do this with grace and openness to those individual members who hold different views, creating a safe space where everyone’s voice can be expressed and heard.

A key aim in this process is to move beyond the simplistic “sound bite” level that so dominates the media on this subject, and instead engage with the details of the Voice proposal. The primary aim is not to change people’s minds, but rather for us to engage with this topic and thereby come to better understand the issues involved. How each individual votes at the Referendum is, of course, that individual’s choice, but if we are prepared to engage with the subject at some depth, we will be aided in making the most informed decision we can.

We are hoping that a number of planned approaches may help facilitate this process:

  1. Voice Discussion Paper
    Michael Dowling has written a discussion paper on the Voice (that you can download from this link: https://blackwooduc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Voice-Discussion-Paper.pdf) which we hope will spark conversations on the subject. You are most welcome to share the document outside BUC should you desire.
  2. Kitchen Table Conversations
    It is the intention to hold so-called “Kitchen Table Conversations” at the Church. This is a concept originally pioneered by the Victorian Women’s Trust, and is now widely employed as a civic engagement tool. The idea involves having a facilitator lead a group of 8-10 people as they discuss their thoughts around the particular topic, in this case the Voice proposal.
  3. Community Information Forums
    City of Mitcham have recently decided to commit $40,000 to supporting the Voice, and plan to hold a number of community information forums on the subject. Blackwood Uniting Church will liaise with City of Mitcham about offering our facility should a major event be organized.
  4. Display of a banner promoting the Voice to Parliament
    Part of engaging with the Voice proposal is being a visible part of that engagement to our wider community.

Apart from providing general information on what’s happening regarding BUC and the Voice, and encouraging people to engage with the subject, Michael would like to affirm his intention not to promote the Voice during his Sunday messages. This is part of Michael’s desire to provide “space” for people to discern and to share their own position on the matter.

Church Council encourages every member to openly and respectfully engage with this subject, seeking to take an informed examination of the issues before voting.

Adrian Brown, Chair
Michael Dowling, Minister